One of the things I love doing the most for The Great Southern Brainfart is conducting interviews. I absolutely love it. I remember back in my wee teen years watching Riki Rachtman on Headbanger’s Ball and love him or hate him, the dude was amazing at his job. Why? Because he wasn’t just some clueless press person sticking a mic in people’s faces and asking them the same tired questions. What I always loved about Riki was that his connection with these bands seemed to go far beyond the camera. He was a fan and when it came time to do an interview, Riki would make them fun, silly, and truly interesting conversations. When it came time to do interviews myself, I remembered how much I loved his style and I decided that this was how I was going to do things.
In all honesty, of all the interviews I have done since starting this thing in 2009, I have had two bad interviews. That’s not a bad fucking track record. For the most part, when I interview bands, it’s always different. Sometimes it’s business as usual, 20 minutes in and out thanks a lot good-bye but there are a lot of times where a pretty magical connection is made between myself and the person I am interviewing. I know it sounds crazy but it truly is a magical feeling when I feel like I can get these amazing artists into this vulnerable state where they feel like they can open up to me without fear. It’s like something I could never imagine.
This post was inspired because of a few interview instances that I have had that were similar to this. The first time I can remember this happening was back in 2010 when I interviewed former Megadeth drummer Shawn Drover. I had spent a few days watching interviews with this guy and didn’t seem to be all that talkative and seemed to at times look annoyed at the questions that were being asked. I made sure I came up with some fun questions and when I sat down with him, his body language said so much. He sat in a chair, legs crossed, and arms folded and by the time the interview was ending, he was leaning forward in his chair and laughing with me. He went on to tell me that it was one of his favorite interviews and that he had a really great time. That was when I knew I was on my way.
Another very memorable instance was when I interviewed Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess. I was told by management that I had 15 minutes, no more. I waited in the room and Jordan came in and introduced himself to me. At the time, Mike Mangini had just joined the band as their new drummer and every interview I watched with Jordan, the interviewers asked more questions about what it was like to play with Mangini. I started my interview off by telling Jordan that while I knew Mangini was a great drummer, this interview was about him. He just smiled and said, “Thank you so much.” We talked about his solo projects, his state of the art music apps and all of the sudden our 15 minutes were up. The manager came in to get me and Jordan told him, “It’s ok. I’m having fun with this one.” The interview went on to last for nearly 50 minutes. It felt so good to see him enjoying it so much and he even went as far as to send me an email a few weeks later thanking me for such a great interview.
Most recently I had similar experiences with two of my absolutely favorite metal icons: Jorn Lande and Steve “Lips” Kudlow from Anvil. When I was interviewing Jorn via the telephone, he was such a gracious guy but I could tell that he had so much to say. In the interviews that I had been reading, interviewers seemed to just graze the surface and never really try to go much deeper. I decided that I would attempt to try and get him to open up a bit more regarding his relationship with Ronnie James Dio and with the members of Sabbath after Dio’s passing. He really opened up and even told me that he had never told anyone these things before. Lips from Anvil said the same thing to me after our interview. He told me that he felt like he might even be telling me too much but I just assured him that I wasn’t in this to get incriminating things from him but for him to just open up, even if it would be about stuff that I wouldn’t print.
I constantly strive to be better at what I do so when I have these experiences they just re-assure me that I’m in a good place with what I’m doing. Seeing these people open up to me and allow me into their personal experiences just for a short amount of time is something that I will never take for granted. It’s something that makes me want to continue to grow and it’s something that makes me never want to stop doing this… ever.